30 Days of Knitting: Day 4

Day 4: How did you learn how to knit?

My grandmother, who I call Nana, taught me how to knit when we were on vacation. I mentioned this in response to the first prompt for 30 Days of Knitting. She had tried once before, but I was too young to be patient with it, particularly because she was also teaching me how to hand sew; we focused on that instead. I consider the teaching session at the rented cabin in Door County to be my first “learn to knit” lesson.

Nana mostly demonstrated the stitches for me and guided my hands. We spent a lot of time on each step. She cast on, with me watching, and then we unraveled it. Then I cast on with her moving my hands, and then we unraveled it. And finally I cast on shakily, and unraveled it again to do it once more for the final cast on.

The only stitch that she taught me at that first lesson was the knit stitch. I was able to manage pretty well during the trip, since she was there to ask for help if I forgot or if something didn’t look right. The scarf was still a mess; I kept accidentally increasing or decreasing stitches as I worked and it wobbled from row to row. I didn’t have the skill to unravel and pick up the stitches when I made a mistake–if the mistake was too big: like too many dropped stitches–I had to start over again.

When I was at home after the trip I focused on finishing the scarf, and as soon as I was done I started a new one with some other yarn she had given me.

The second scarf was a lot harder. I couldn’t quite remember how to cast on, and my mom didn’t knit, so I relied on the pictures in the Boye “I Taught Myself Knitting” book. I’m not sure that anyone has actually taught themselves knitting from this book unassisted; it’s not the clearest guide. I kept trying, but it didn’t seem right. The next time I saw Nana she set me back on track. I made a few more garter-stitch scarves, but then I tried a project that involved purling. I could not purl. Nothing I did made my stitches look any different than a knit stitch. It was so upsetting that lost interest in knitting.

I rediscovered the yarn that I had been given in high school, and attempted to knit again just following the directions in the book. It didn’t work out in my favor–particularly when I tried to purl–and I abandoned knitting in frustration.

When I entered university and started living on campus, my interest in knitting was renewed. I liked knit garments and knit accessories, and I wanted to have them exactly the way I wanted them. Nana was kind enough to re-teach me, and this time I made more progress. I still had a lot of trouble with purl stitches, so I avoided any projects more involved than garter stitch. I started to feel more and more bored, so I started looking online for tutorials and books to check out from the library.

And that’s when I learned that I wasn’t doing anything even vaguely like purling. With that knowledge, the world of knitting patterns was opened to me, and I was hooked ever since then.